Front Row (radio programme)

Last updated

Front Row
Country of originUK
Home station BBC Radio 4
Hosted by Samira Ahmed, John Wilson and Kirsty Lang
Original release1998 – present

Front Row is a radio programme on BBC Radio 4 that has been broadcast regularly since 1998. The BBC describes the programme as a "live magazine programme on the world of arts, literature, film, media and music". [1] It is broadcast each weekday between 7.15 pm and 7.45 pm, and has a podcast available for download. Shows usually include a mix of interviews, reviews, previews, discussions, reports and columns. Some episodes however, particularly on bank holidays, include a single interview with prominent figures in the arts or a half-hour-long feature on a single subject.

BBC Radio 4 British domestic radio station, owned and operated by the BBC

BBC Radio 4 is a radio station owned and operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is Gwyneth Williams, and the station is part of BBC Radio and the BBC Radio department. The station is broadcast from the BBC's headquarters at Broadcasting House, London. On 21 January 2019 Williams announced she was quitting the role. There are no details of when or who will be her replacement.



Front Row has been broadcast since 1998. It developed out of BBC Radio 4's previous daily arts programme Kaleidoscope , which ran from 1973 to 1998. It is broadcast each weekday between 7.15 pm and 7.45 pm, and has a podcast available for download. Podcasts consisted of weekly highlights until September 2011, but have been full daily episodes since.

Kaleidoscope was a BBC Radio 4 arts programme which ran for 25 years from 1973. It ended with the major schedule changes that occurred in April 1998, when it was replaced by Front Row.

The programme's presenters include Samira Ahmed, John Wilson, Stig Abell and Kirsty Lang. Former presenters include Francine Stock [2] (1998–?) and Mark Lawson (1998–2014). [3] [4] [5]

Samira Ahmed British television newsreader and reporter on Channel 4 News

Samira Ahmed is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster at the BBC, where she has presented Radio 3's Night Waves and Radio 4's PM, The World Tonight, Sunday and Front Row and has presented the Proms for BBC Four.

John Richard Wilson is a British journalist and broadcaster. He is the son of Bob Wilson, former Arsenal goalkeeper and television sports presenter.

Stephen "Stig" Paul Abell is an English journalist, newspaper editor and radio presenter.

In 2013, Tracey Emin presented, for a brief while, a series on the programme where people discussed their favourite piece of art work. [6] [7] A total of 75 creative minds appeared on the programme and talked about their favourite piece of art work, which they all felt had particularly inspired them. This feature was called "Cultural Exchange" and for the first night of the feature (22 April 2013) Emin herself appeared on the programme and said that her favourite piece of art work would be a painting by Vermeer. [8] Other people on the Cultural Exchange have included Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, who selected The War Requiem by Benjamin Britten; Nicholas Hytner, Director General of the National Theatre, who chose Mozart's opera The Magic Flute ; historian Antonia Fraser, who selected the painting The Fighting Temeraire by J. M. W. Turner; novelist Sarah Hall, who selected the film Blade Runner ; the author Mark Haddon, who chose The Uffington White Horse; and pianist Stephen Hough, who selected a piece of music by Franz Schubert called "The Hurdy Gurdy Man".

Tracey Emin English artist

Tracey Emin, CBE, RA is an English artist known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork. Emin produces work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, photography, neon text and sewn appliqué. Once the "enfant terrible" of the Young British Artists in the 1980s, Tracey Emin is now a Royal Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Justin Welby British Anglican bishop; the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Portal Welby is the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and the most senior bishop in the Church of England. He has served in that role since 2013. Welby was the vicar of Southam, Warwickshire, and most recently was the Bishop of Durham, serving for just over a year. As Archbishop of Canterbury, he is the Primate of All England and the head Primus inter pares of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Benjamin Britten English composer, conductor, and pianist

Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945).

The first writer to be interviewed on the programme was Beryl Bainbridge.

Beryl Bainbridge English novelist

Dame Beryl Margaret Bainbridge was an English writer from Liverpool. She was primarily known for her works of psychological fiction, often macabre tales set among the English working class. Bainbridge won the Whitbread Awards prize for best novel in 1977 and 1996; she was nominated five times for the Booker Prize. She was described in 2007 as "a national treasure". In 2008, The Times named Bainbridge on their list of "The 10 greatest British writers since 1945".

Front Row has also covered popular media topics, among them Buffy the Vampire Slayer covered by Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon in December 2013. From September 2017, the programme has begun to be broadcast on television, on Saturday nights on BBC Two.

<i>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</i> American supernatural drama television series

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American supernatural drama television series based on the 1992 film of the same name. It was created by Joss Whedon under his production tag, Mutant Enemy Productions, with later co-executive producers being Jane Espenson, David Fury, David Greenwalt, Doug Petrie, Marti Noxon, and David Solomon.

Neil Gaiman English fantasy writer

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book (2008). In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards.

Joss Whedon American director, writer, and producer for television and film

Joseph Hill Whedon is an American producer, director, screenwriter, comic book writer, and composer. He is the founder of Mutant Enemy Productions and co-founder of Bellwether Pictures, and is best known as the creator of several television series, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003), Angel (1999–2004), Firefly (2002), Dollhouse (2009–10), and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013–present), as well as producing, directing, and/or writing several especially successful films.

Related Research Articles

BBC Radio 3 British national radio station

BBC Radio 3 is a British radio station operated by the BBC. Its output centres on classical music and opera, but jazz, world music, drama, culture and the arts also feature. The station describes itself as 'the world's most significant commissioner of new music', and through its New Generation Artists scheme promotes young musicians of all nationalities. The station broadcasts the BBC Proms concerts, live and in full, each summer in addition to performances by the BBC Orchestras and Singers. There are regular productions of both classic plays and newly commissioned drama.

Melvyn Bragg British broadcaster and author

Melvyn Bragg, Baron Bragg,, is an English broadcaster, author and parliamentarian. He is best known for his work with ITV as editor and presenter of The South Bank Show (1978–2010), and for the Radio 4 discussion series In Our Time.

<i>The South Bank Show</i> ITV art documentary show

The South Bank Show is a British television arts magazine show. It was originally produced by London Weekend Television and broadcast on ITV between 1978 and 2010. A new version of the series began on Sky Arts from 27 May 2012. Conceived, written and presented by former BBC arts broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, the show aims to bring both high art and popular culture to a mass audience.

PM, sometimes referred to as the PM programme to avoid ambiguity, is BBC Radio 4's long-running early evening news and current affairs programme. It is currently presented by Evan Davis and Carolyn Quinn.

Classic FM is one of the United Kingdom's three Independent National Radio stations. The station broadcasts classical music.

<i>Womans Hour</i> BBC radio magazine programme for women, broadcast on Radio 4 in the United Kingdom.

Woman's Hour is a radio magazine programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the United Kingdom which has been on air since 1946.

<i>The Now Show</i>

The Now Show is a British radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4, which satirises the week's news. The show is a mixture of stand-up, sketches and songs hosted by Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis. The show used to feature regular appearances by Jon Holmes, Laura Shavin, a monologue by Marcus Brigstocke, and music by Mitch Benn, Pippa Evans or Adam Kay, but now features a much wider range of contributors.

<i>Digital Planet</i> Radio show broadcast on the BBC World service

Digital Planet is a radio programme broadcast on the BBC World Service presented by Gareth Mitchell. On alternate weeks either Bill Thompson or Ghislaine Boddington comment on items in the programme and discuss them with Mitchell. The show, broadcast weekly, covers technology stories and news from around the world.

Mark Gerard Lawson is an English journalist, broadcaster and author. Specialising in culture and the arts, he is best known for presenting the flagship BBC Radio 4 arts programme Front Row between 1998 and 2014. He is also a Guardian columnist, and presents Mark Lawson Talks To... on BBC Four.

The Moral Maze is a live discussion programme on BBC Radio 4, broadcast since 1990. Since November 2011, it has also been available as a podcast.

Francine Stock is a British radio and TV presenter and novelist, of part-French origin.

Geoff Lloyd British DJ

Geoff Barron Lloyd is an English radio presenter, television host, podcast host and writer, best known for his talk radio and music shows.

The Late Show (1989–1995) is a British television arts magazine programme that was broadcast on BBC Two weeknights at 11.15pm—directly after Newsnight—often referred to as the "graveyard slot" in terms of television scheduling.

PM is one of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship current-affairs radio programs, and is one of Australia's longest-running productions.

<i>The Russell Brand Show</i> (radio show)

The Russell Brand Show is a radio show first broadcast in 2006 on BBC Radio 6 Music. The show's host is English comedian Russell Brand, who is usually joined his by co-host and long-term friend, Matt Morgan, as well as the show's poet laureate, Greg "Mr Gee" Sekweyama. The show has also featured regular contributions from English musician Noel Gallagher, who has been described as an unofficial co-host.

Gemma Cairney is an English television and radio presenter best known for her work on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 Music. She most recently presented The Leisure Society on BBC Radio 6 Music where she interviewed cultural icons including Goldie, Tracey Emin, Kelley Deal, Laurie Vincent from Slaves and Cosey Fanni Tutti. Previously she co-hosted The Surgery alongside Radha Modgil. She has also presented Gemma Cairney on BBC Radio 1 weekends 7 am – 10 am and later weekdays 4 am – 6:30 am, switching with Dev. More recently she has regularly covered for Mary Ann Hobbs, Chris Hawkins and Craig Charles on BBC Radio 6 Music. Gemma is also an Oxfam ambassador.

<i>The Beatles Tapes from the David Wigg Interviews</i> 1976 live album spoken word by the Beatles

The Beatles Tapes from the David Wigg Interviews is an audio album of interviews with each of the four members of The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. British journalist David Wigg interviewed the individual Beatles at various points from December 1968 or January 1969 to December 1973, and excerpts from some of these recordings constitute the album's spoken words. Although he was a columnist for the London newspaper The Evening News, the interviews were intended for broadcast on BBC Radio 1's Scene and Heard. Interspersed among the interview excerpts are instrumental performances of Beatles songs, played by other musicians. The Beatles tried to prevent the album's publication, but it was released in the United Kingdom on 30 July 1976 under the Polydor label and in the United States in 1978.

A timeline of notable events relating to BBC Radio 4, a British national radio station which began broadcasting in September 1967.


  1. "BBC Radio 4: Front Row". BBC. Retrieved 11 July 2019.
  2. "Francine Stock: Break in transmission" The Guardian. Accessed 20 October 2016
  3. "Mark Lawson to leave BBC Radio 4's Front Row amid claims of bullying" The Guardian. Accessed 20 October 2016
  4. "Mark Lawson quits Radio 4 'Front Row' amid bullying furore" The Daily Telegraph. Accessed 20 October 2016
  5. "Mark Lawson leaves Radio 4's Front Row following 'bullying allegations'" The Independent. Accessed 20 October 2016
  6. "Tracey Emin launches Radio 4's major arts series Cultural Exchange" The Guardian. Accessed 20 October 2016
  7. "Radio 4’s Front Row is brilliant, witty and eclectic. So why let Tracey Emin spoil it?" The Spectator. Accessed 20 October 2016
  8. "Tracey Emin: Chooses Vermeer's Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid for Front Row's Cultural Exchange" BBC Radio 4. Accessed 20 October 2016